Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain
Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain meet again in the Champions League round of 16. It’s the first time these two European giants have clashed since the famous La Remontada in 2017, when Barca made a miraculous comeback at the Camp Nou to knock the Parisians out.
PSG will be out to avenge that dramatic defeat at the hands of the Catalans, but they must do so without the help of Brazilian superstar Neymar, who will not get to face his old mate Leo Messi and his old team after picking up an injury.
Barcelona have been in brilliant form since the start of 2021, with Messi back to his goalscoring best of late.
But even without Neymar, PSG still have a talented squad led by Kylian Mbappe, so no one should discount their Champions League 2021 betting odds of coming away from the first leg at the Camp Nou with a positive result.
Messi back to his magical best at Barcelona
Barcelona will head into this Champions League round-of-16 first leg in the middle of their best run of form in the league this season. They have won all seven La Liga matches to start the year, including a 5-1 thrashing of Alaves over the weekend, to jump up to second in the table.
That result was the perfect way for Barca to bounce back after getting knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Sevilla in midweek.
Lionel Messi had another magnificent match as he scored two spectacular goals against Alaves. Messi has now scored nine goals in his last nine games. He also scored three times in his four Champions League group games.
Francisco Trincao was also fantastic as he bagged a brace. The 21-year-old is getting the chance to play with the likes of Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, and Martin Braithwaite all injured, and he has capitalised by scoring three goals in his last two La Liga appearances.
Trincao’s fine form puts him in contention to play alongside Messi and Antoine Griezmann. However, French winger Ousmane Dembele will still be the favourite to start.
Barcelona also have some injury concerns on the other end. Manager Ronald Koeman opted to play midfielder Frenkie de Jong in central defence over the weekend with Sergino Dest and Ronald Araujo dealing with injuries. Although, both Dest and Samuel Umtiti came on as substitutes against Alaves, so they could be ready to start against PSG.
Barcelona have a terrific home record in the Champions League, but their record 38-match unbeaten run in the competition at the Camp Nou was snapped by a 3-0 defeat in their final group game against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus.
PSG must cope with Neymar absence
Paris Saint-Germain will head into the first leg on the back of four consecutive wins in all competitions. However, the French champions will be without superstar Neymar, who suffered a groin injury in their 1-0 win over Caen in the Coupe de France.
Neymar is expected to be out for the next four weeks, which means he will likely miss both legs against Barcelona. Needless to say, that is a huge blow for PSG as Neymar scored six goals in five Champions League group stage matches this season.
PSG picked themselves up from that devastating piece of Champions League 2021 news by beating Nice 2-1 over the weekend. Manager Mauricio Pochettino started a front four of Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe, Julian Draxler, and Moise Kean in that match. Draxler and Kean both scored, while Icardi had an assist and hit the woodwork.
But Poch is unlikely to start such an attacking line-up at the Camp Nou, especially with both Neymar and Angel Di Maria out injured. Those absences will leave his options in attack quite limited.
Although, PSG have been handed a boost with midfielder Ander Herrera and goalkeeper Keylor Navas now recovered from their recent injuries. Marco Verratti is also back in training after a recent knock and could potentially return to the heart of PSG’s midfield.
Barcelona and PSG have met 11 times in total in European competition. Barca hold a slight 5-3 edge in terms of wins, while there have been three draws.
They last met in the 2017 Champions League round of 16. PSG seemingly had the tie done and dusted after a 4-0 win in the first leg at home.
But Barca — with help from two late goals by Neymar, who also had the assist for the winning goal — stormed back with a 6-1 win at the Camp Nou as they went through 6-5 on aggregate.
|Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain||Paris Saint-Germain Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.80|
|February 17, 04:00 (GMT+8)|
Despite Neymar’s absence, the SBOTOP odds still have Barcelona as 2.13 favourites, with PSG priced at 3.10. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.60.
Even with Neymar out, PSG still offer a unique threat to Barcelona, who do have their share of question marks in defence. Pochettino is an expert tactician and should have a sound gameplan ready for the first leg.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if PSG play on the counter at the Camp Nou, with Mbappe’s pace likely to cause Barca’s backline some problems. That’s why I’m backing the Parisians to pull off a positive result in the first leg.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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